As we reported about two hours ago, two teams were trying to sneak in and land Cliff Lee last this afternoon amid reports that the New York Yankees were on the verge of landing him in a multi-player deal with the Seattle Mariners.
It turns out, one of those two teams was the Texas Rangers.
Only in America could a team in bankrupcy court land the best available pitcher in baseball, but that’s what the Rangers have done in a story first reported by the New York Post, which earlier reported the Yankees were on the verge of acquiring the lefty Lee, who had been scheduled to face the Yankees tonight in Seattle.
Lee, 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and who can become a free-agent at the end of the year, went to Texas along with hard-throwing reliever Mark Lowe. In return the Rangers gave up highly-coveted first base prospect Justin Smoak as trhe major piece of the deal, but also gave up right-handed pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Leuke and second baseman/outfielder Matt Lawson.
Smoak will likely unseat Casey Kotchman and Russell Branyan as the Mariners’ starting first basemen.
Smoak was definitely one of the players the Rangers had balked at giving up in earlier dealings with the Mariners. The Mariners were looking for a hitter which is why they were so intrigued by Triple-A Yankee catcher Jesus Montero, who is considered a future power-hitter in the majors. The Yankees were also throwing in infielder David Adams and righty Zack McAllister, but there were concerns about an Adams injury. It’s not known whether that was the reason the deal died.
It’s also unusual that teams in the same division would make a deal of this magnitude.